It should come as no surprise to most Pennsylvania residents that a criminal record can have many ramifications. One bad night or one mistake can result in a criminal conviction, and even one misdemeanor charge on a record can have permanent consequences in almost all areas of life.
People with a criminal record may be barred from certain jobs, from getting into schools or educational programs or from obtaining various types of licenses. Career goals can become impossible, resulting in financial struggles from a lack of meaningful employment. This is in addition to the stigma many people face from family, friends or society for their criminal record.
Summary offenses can be expunged upon petition
For these reasons, expunging a criminal record is an attractive idea. Pennsylvania law allows for expungement of a criminal record, but only in certain circumstances. Summary offenses, which are misdemeanor, non-traffic related offenses such as disorderly conduct, harassment or retail theft, can be expunged if a petition is filed with the court, and the person has not been arrested or prosecuted for any crimes within 5 years of the prior conviction.
Expungement for non-summary offenses
For all types of offenses, if a case has not concluded within 18 months of an arrest, a criminal record could be expunged. This may occur in situations where an arrest was made, but charges were not filed, or charges were filed, but withdrawn or dismissed.
Additionally, Pennsylvania residents who turn 70 years old and went 10 years with no arrests or prosecutions after they were released from confinement or probation may have their records expunged. Residents convicted of underage drinking between the ages of 18 and 21 can expunge their conviction if they have completed all requirements of their sentence.
Expungement in other types of cases or other situations may be more difficult. It is a good idea to speak with a criminal defense attorney to explore all available avenues to erasing a criminal record.